Mark Twain Commemorative Coins Approved in House

by Darrin Lee Unser on April 19, 2012 · 8 comments

Mark Twain stamp

Mark Twain was featured on a U.S. postage stamp in 2011. Commemorative coins honoring him could get produced in 2016.

Commemorative coins honoring Mark Twain could be issued by the United States Mint in 2016, based on legislation which overwhelmingly passed in the House on Wednesday, April 18, 2012. Entitled the Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Act and numbered H.R. 2453, the bill sailed through the House almost without opposition by a vote of 408 to 4.

Under the terms of the proposed Act, the Secretary of the Treasury would be required to produce gold and silver coins in commemoration of Mark Twain, the noted 19th century author and humorist. Twain was the pen name of Samuel Clemens who was responsible for such American classics as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

The legislation, introduced by U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri, is the most recent attempt to see Twain celebrated through commemorative coins. Past attempts saw similar legislation introduced in both 2008 and 2009 with those bills dying from inaction.

"Mark Twain has been an important part of our country’s history, and I’m honored that this bipartisan legislation will help preserve Twain’s literary legacy and historic sites at no cost to hard-working taxpayers," said Luetkemeyer, of the Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Act. The Act "honors Twain’s contribution to American history and his connection to the area where he was born and raised. I am also pleased that this legislation will help grow opportunities for Hannibal and surrounding communities."

Designs and Specifications for Mark Twain Commemorative Coins

According to the H.R. 2453, up to 100,000 proof and uncirculated $5 Mark Twain Commemorative Gold Coins would be issued along with a maximum of 350,000 proof and uncirculated Mark Twain Commemorative Silver Dollars. Both would feature designs "emblematic of the life and legacy of Mark Twain." Following a review by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC), the final designs would be chosen by the Treasury Secretary after consultation with the United States Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) and the Board of the Mark Twain House and Museum.

Mark Twain Commemorative $5 Gold Coins would feature a diameter of 0.850 inches with a weight of 8.359 grams and a composition of 90 percent gold and 10 percent alloy. Mark Twain Commemorative Silver Dollars would have a diameter of 1.50 inches and a weight of 26.73 grams with a composition of 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper.

Surcharges and Status of Act

Like other modern commemorative coins, surcharges would be collected on the sale of each strike. This includes a $35 surcharge per gold coin and a $10 surcharge per silver dollar. Collected monies would get equally split between four different groups. Those four groups are the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Connecticut; the Mark Twain Project at the Bancroft Library of the University of California, Berkeley, California; the Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College, New York; and the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, Missouri.

"Mark Twain is one of our nation’s greatest scribes whose work has withstood the test of time and continues to remind Americans of where we have come as a people," stated Rep. John Larson, who cosponsored the Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Act. "These coins will help a new generation of Americans learn about Twain’s contributions to Connecticut and our country by providing support for the institutions that work every day to honor his legacy."

H.R. 2453 is now in the hands of the Senate. Members there have the option to proceed with the House bill, ignore it and let it die, or pick up the Senate’s own version, S. 1929, which was introduced last December by Senator Richard Blumenthal [D-CT] of Connecticut. After Congressional approval, the legislation would be forwarded to the President for his signature to become law.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

jim April 19, 2012 at 8:51 am

2016 isn’t a 100th or 150th anniversary of his birth, death, or any of his books or other works of note. So I wonder why now? Are the beneficiaries of the surcharges really hurting for money right now? And I’m curious why the 4 who voted against the bill did so. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in favor of a Mark Twain commemorative coin like anybody else, I’m just wondering what the incentive is.

george glazener April 19, 2012 at 9:39 am

Official Summary
7/7/2011–Introduced.Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Act – Directs the Secretary of the Treasury to mint and issue $5 gold coins and $1 silver coins emblematic of the life and legacy of Mark Twain. Limits issuance of such coins to calendar year 2016. Requires specified surcharges in the sale of such coins, which shall be promptly paid, in specified percentages, to:
(1) the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Connecticut, to support the continued restoration of the house and grounds, and ensure continuing growth and innovation in museum programming to research, promote, and educate on the legacy of Mark Twain;
(2) the Mark Twain Project at the Bancroft Library of University of California, Berkeley, California, to support programs to study and promote Mark Twain’s legacy;
(3) the Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College, New York, for the same purposes; and
(4) the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, Missouri, to preserve historical sites related to Mark Twain and help support study and promotion programs.

The (4) NAY votes were all from Republicans. Possibly they’re taking a stand against Govt. waste. i.e. the curtailment of Presidential dollar coins? Not sure. We could check their individual web pages to see if they explained themselves on this one.

Alan April 19, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Sweet! I’m all in favor of a Mark Twain coin. Actually, any commemorative of a non-military theme that honors American culture and artists would be welcome!

It’s interesting that this commemorative would not be tied to any usual anniversary date. I wonder what other commemorative coins have no particular anniversary related to their issue?

george glazener April 19, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Funny you should ask…..strictly speaking, the current 2012 Star Spangled Banner coin honors the 200th anniversary of an event (battle) that actually occurred in 1814, not 1812. But that’s splitting hairs I suppose. I agree with you though, I’d like to see more Great American commems, like Patrick Henry, Henry Ford, Babe Ruth, Benedict Arnold….(after all, he DID help win the battle of Saratoga before he turned to the Dark Side). They could give him just a bronze commem, not a silver!

jim April 20, 2012 at 9:15 am

We have been on a big military oriented run lately. What non-military commemoratives? See http://moderncommemoratives.com/ for a list of all the modern issues. The vast majority have not been military/war related – it’s only these last years (2010-2013) that there’s been a heavy concentration. The Girl Scouts will be honored (silver only) next year, Civil Rights in 2014 and US Marshals (not really military) in 2015.

Can’t pick on waste haters for the 4 votes – the coins are priced to pay for themselves at no cost to the gov and if they make only to order there’s no excess.

george glazener April 20, 2012 at 10:47 am

And there really ought to be a JKF Commem for 2013.
Then an Appomattox Commem for 2015 to celebrate the END of the Civil War. Just imagine the iconic image of Grant & Lee sitting at that table signing the surrender papers on a Brilliant Silver Proof Coin..!! Whoa baby..!!

RonnieBGood April 20, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Approx 4 simple steps can bring a coin idea to reality:
Step 1) Select an event or person you would like represented in coin.
Step 2) Select the appropriate representative(s) in the appropriate states.
Step 3) Set pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.
Step 4) Mail / E-mail. Better if done in number.
Shake, stir and if lucky bill becomes law and law becomes coin.

george glazener April 20, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Good man! I appreciate the info. I shall therefore commence my campaign for a 2015 Appomattox Court House Surrender Commemorative Coin Program. It’ll give my congressmen something important to do for a change!

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